Religious Garb on the Field of Play: Kosher or Not?

The boy shown at right is Yossi Lipskier, a nine-year-old who plays on a Little League team in Arizona. As you can see, he’s wearing tzitzit — the knotted fringes attached to the corners of the prayer shawl worn by observant Jewish males. Yossi, the only Jew on his team (and, according to his father, probably the only one in his league), wears the shawl under his jersey with the tzitzit exposed.

That recently led to a remarkable sequence of events at one of Yossi’s games, as his father explained in a email to COLive, a Jewish-oriented news service. Here’s the key passage:

The game was going fine, with Yossi (as always) very actively participating and very much looking forward to his “at bat.” As he came up to bat, the umpire happened to notice that Yossi wears two uniforms: his team uniform, and also the fringe undergarment uniform of every male Jew — tzitzit.

And then, for the first time, the umpire insisted that Yossi remove his tzitzit [because] it could produce some type of “interference or unfair advantage.”

Although no further explanation is given for the ump’s decision, I’m assuming he was invoking the same rule that’s applied against excessively baggy uniforms, the rationale being that this would make the batter more likely to have his uni nicked by a pitch. While the rule makes sense, it seems absurd to apply it to a Little Leaguer’s religious attire, no?

Yossi told the umpire why he was wearing the tzitzit, but the ump insisted that he remove them. Yossi, sticking to his principles, opted not to play rather than remove the tzitzit. Then — and here’s the beauty part — his teammates supported him by choosing not to play either. They said they’d rather forfeit the game than play without Yossi. How awesome is that?

After a quick powwow between the coaches and the ump, Yossi was allowed to wear the tzitzit after all and the game proceeded — a good lesson for all involved. Yossi now joins the ranks of other athletes whose uniforms have included some accommodation for their religions, including the Christian high school basketball players who wear long pants to maintain a look of modesty, the Muslim sprinter who wore a hijab, and the Jewish college hoops player who wore a yarmulke.

This raises some interesting questions, though. Little League is one thing, but what if a college or professional ballplayer wanted to wear tzitzit? Should the rule be more strictly applied? Should an exception be carved into the rule, so that a pitch hitting the tzitzit wouldn’t count as being hit by the pitch? And what about other religious garments and customs — what allowances should be made for them? Would a Sikh ballplayer, who under normal circumstances would maintain a beard, have to go clean-shaven if he ended up being acquired by the Yankees, who famously don’t allow beards? All good food for thought.

(Special thanks to Phil for bringing Yossi’s story to my attention.)

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

There it is. The Big One. The Holy Grail. The White Whale. The … whatever. For a semi-retired bobblehead collector like me (we’re downsizing a lot, and I have no space), this is still The Ultimate. Mike Krukow (left) and Duane Kuiper, aka “Kruk ’n’ Kuip,” are legendary Giants announcers. This bobble was not a stadium giveaway — back in 2003, it was available via a newspaper ad for around $25. I didn’t go for it as I had just got laid off at CNET and didn’t want to spend the money — a major an error on my part.

They now go for $250-$500 a pop. And only a few thousand made, as opposed to the usual 40K for stadium giveaways. They’ve resurfaced as part of a wine stopper set, but never as a reissue. Yet.

And here it is for just $320. But, hey — free shipping!

Okay, enough about my Giants/bobble obsession. Here’s the rest of this week’s eBay haul:

• Haven’t thought of these in decades but I had ’em — a set of small “Super Ball” type rubber balls with photos of MLB players in them!

• Want a truly massive set of NFL fridge magnets? Well, look no further.

• This seller is offering a 1960s Continental Football League baseball cap.

• Nice-looking artwork on this 1960s NFL Wilson football gear set box, featuring “Famous Players” Griese and Sayers.

• The Ray-duhz logo is shown on the crown of the helmet, instead of on the sides, in the cover illo of this 1960 game program.

• Ah, here we have one of the popular late-1960s/early-1970s helmet banks that popped up in all NFL markets, it seems. Never seen a Baltimore Colts one before!

• Paul, is that your guy Ken Willard on this 1960s 49ers print? [Hmmmm. He did wear No. 40, but he was also 6'2". So if that's him, then those linemen must have been HUGE! — PL]

• Dave Boss Alert! Dan Reeves, No. 30 of the Cowboys, featured in this poster.

• Speaking of The BossMan, here’s a 1960s NY Jets poster.

• From reader David Firestone, here’s a rare racing suit worn by Tom Cruise in the movie Days of Thunder.

• And from reader Brett Baker, a Nebraska Cornhuskers marching band cap.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Chicago reminder: All you Chicago-area readers, remember that there’s a Uni Watch party coming up this Saturday, June 7, 6pm, at the Black Rock Bar. And now that the Blackhawks have been eliminated, you won’t be busy that night and will need to drown your sorrows, so come on out and meet intern Mike “Question of the Week” Chamernik, Comrade Robert Marshall, Jimbo Huening, Marty Hick (visiting all the way from St. Looie), and the rest of the Chi-town crew. Wish I could be there, but mainly I’m hoping you’ll be there.

And while we’re at it, all NYC-area readers are hereby reminded that we’ll be having a Uni Watch 15th-anniversary party one week from tonight — Tuesday, June 10, 7:30pm, in the back room at Sheep Station. Phil and I look forward to having you buy us a few rounds seeing you there.

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Today’s Ticker was compiled and written by Garrett McGrath.

Baseball News: On Saturday, we shared some information on the Marlins 1949 Sun Sox throwback uniforms that will be worn on June 8. Here is a little more background on the Sun Sox’s history (thanks, Phil). … At the same game, the Cubs will be honoring the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, popularized in the 1990s by A League of Their Own, by giving out these bobblehead statues (from Tim Hanlon). … The House that Clemente Built: Here’s a wonderful 1960s rendering of Three Rivers Stadium as a purely baseball stadium before it was reconsidered, and eventually constructed, as a multi-sport facility. … Justin Verlander’s brother Ben plays for the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Class A minor league Detroit Tigers affiliate, and posted a photo of himself in his Social Media Night uniform on May 29. At least tucked in looks a little better, when you can’t see all of the strange multicolored boxes (from Michael Bailey). … Not uni-related, but last night’s Brewers game started at 6:20pm instead of 7:10pm, in honor of WTMJ Radio Night. The station is at 620 on the AM dial (thanks fellow intern, Mike).

NFL News: Broncos’ unused championship gear has been donated to Africa (thanks, Phil). … Yesterday’s MMQB featured a uni-numerical mismatch between jersey and helmet (from Jonathan Ford). … Here’s the story behind the first playbook wristband, worn by inexperienced Baltimore Colts QB Tom Matte (thanks, Brinke). … What is this black stripe down the middle of these Arizona Cardinals helmets? Intended for QBs at training camp only, or is the team making a change?

College Football News: Northwestern posted this video yesterday showing of a variety of different uniforms for next season (thanks, Phil).

Soccer News: Aston Villa shared their new 2014-2015 home and home keeper kits (thanks, Phil). … Detroit City FC, a fourth division club, will promote Motor City Pride with a rainbow equality symbol on its shirt (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Real Madrid posted official pictures of their 2014-2015 home and away kits. … Here is the new Big 12 Conference logo on Iowa State University’s soccer field. … Trevor Williams has outdone himself — all the rest of this news is from him: Official release of the home and away Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014 World Cup kits. … Non-World Cup Nations: Home and away 2014 kits for South Africa and home 2014 kit for Uganda. … English teams: Aside from Aston Villa’s official release above, we have: Tottenham Hotspur’s third kit leaked, official release of Queens Park Rangers home, away, and third kits, and official release of Blackpool’s 2014-2015 third kit. … Spanish teams: Real Madrid goalkeeper kit for next season, Atlético Madrid’s Nike home kit, and Rayo Vallencano 90-year anniversary kits. … German Teams: Karlsruher SC home shirt for 2014-2015 season and the Dynamo Dresden home kit which was voted on by fans. … Other club teams: Salamanca Unionists CF shirt with an Atlanta Hawks “Pacman” type crest, official launch for AS Roma’s home kit, FC Porto’s beautiful home but horrendous away kits, Zenit St. Petersburg’s leaked home kit, and Aberdeen’s home kit.

NBA News: Charlotte Hornets guard Jeff Taylor posted a picture of the new practice facility and center court logo (thanks, Phil). … The NBA is releasing 1,946 pairs of their own sneakers to celebrate the league’s 68th anniversary (I see what you did there). As you can see, no information on who is producing but it is safe to say that they are ugly and a terrible way to spend $119 (from Kyle Hanks). … Cork Gaines points out that the Lakers have won exactly zero playoff games since adding those stars with the incorrect apostrophes to their court.

Grab Bag: California State University Northridge has unveiled a new set of logos for their athletic teams (from alumnus Michael Cooperman). … Who owns pi? Don’t laugh — someone is claiming to have a trademark on the mathematical symbol for pi (from Trevor Alexander).

 

208 comments to Religious Garb on the Field of Play: Kosher or Not?

  • Ryan | June 3, 2014 at 7:51 am |

    Tom Cruise didn’t wear that in “Days of Thunder”. His character wasn’t sponsored by Hardee’s. That was probably worn by Carey Elwes (“Robin Hood: Men in Tights).

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:39 am |
    • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 11:20 am |

      The uniform has an embroidered name on the left breast that says “Russ Wheeler.” That was indeed the name of Cary Elwes’ character. Tom Cruise’s character was named Cole Trickle.

  • The Jeff | June 3, 2014 at 8:02 am |

    I strongly believe that religion has no place on sports uniforms, on any level. I don’t care if you’re 6 or 36, if the rules of the sport dictate a certain dress code, then you need to follow it if you want to play. Any supposedly all-knowing “God” would surely understand the circumstances and allow for occasional exception, right? Isn’t faith about what you feel, not what you wear?

    • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 8:24 am |

      That is a very French way to look at it. Which is not an insult! In the democratic West, France and the United States represent extremes on the spectrum of public religiosity. The French approach pushes religious expression out of the public sphere as far as possible, limiting it to the private sphere. The American approach seeks to maximize the public space available for religious expression. It can be oversimplified as freedom FROM religion versus freedom OF religion.

      What the French/The approach versus the American approach illustrates is how different people, largely sharing the same values, can arrive at diametrically opposed positions on an issue. Being an American, I tend to think the American approach is the proper one, and France/The are wrong, but the truth is that French history makes the French approach an understandably sensible response to culture and conditions. The United States has a very different history and present reality, so when we apply much the same values to the question as the French, we arrive at a very different outcome. It’s also important to note that just because our approach has better suited our history and culture, that does not mean that it will always do so. Anyway, just wanted to credit The for illustrating the important point that the answer to this question isn’t really about simple black and white opposing values, but it’s about the gray that happens when people share competing values and order them differently.

      • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 8:46 am |

        I generally agree – I don’t see a problem with individual religious expressions in a public space.

        The issue I have is that it sometimes creeps into using sports as a platform for religion (and we can argue whether Tebow was evangelizing or simply expressing faith), or there’s sanctioned religious expression as part of sports.

    • Padday | June 3, 2014 at 10:16 am |

      Paul, you’ve mentioned before that one of the biggest problems you have with camo on the field is that it brings a level of divisiveness to the ballpark that is harmful. People go to the ballpark to enjoy a game and not to be drawn into a political debate. I would argue that the presence of religious iconography/apparel similarly contravenes this sanctity of the ballpark.

      I see sport as an inherently humanistic endeavour: a number of people enter into a competition based on the idea that the only thing that differentiates them that really matters is their ability to achieve whatever Earthly feat of skill or endurance is asked of them. It seems to me to be flying in the face of that spirit of equality if people are to assert their religious dogma, their spiritual superiority, choseness or righteousness, on the field of play.

      And this is the thing for me, if taking some kind of performance enhancing drug or using a piece of equipment you believe to give you an advantage, like a corked bat, is considered cheating, why not appealing to a supernatural being to help you?

      • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:22 am |

        I would argue that the presence of religious iconography/apparel similarly contravenes this sanctity of the ballpark.

        Then you’re basically saying that people who follow certain religious laws — laws that require them to wear certain attire — cannot participate in athletics.

        That’s a defensible intellectual position, but I sure wouldn’t want to be the one defending it.

        Tell me: Do you feel the same way about the Christian school whose basketball players wear the long pants?

        In any case, religion isn’t political (or at least it shouldn’t be). It’s part of the diversity of our culture, just like ethnic diversity. I’m against political messaging in sports because political messaging is, by definition, divisive. I don’t see the same thing about religious diversity. Yossi’s tzitzit aren’t sending any message except that he is an observant Jew. He’s not looking to convert anyone. What’s the problem?

        • Padday | June 3, 2014 at 10:50 am |

          Then you’re basically saying that people who follow certain religious laws — laws that require them to wear certain attire — cannot participate in athletics.

          It’s all about the way you phrase that really. The way you put it, you’re making any sporting body which demands a certain uniformity which excludes religious iconography (for whatever reason) look like the bad guy. Alternatively though, I would argue that any religion which is so dictatorial about its codes of dress that it doesn’t allow for any practical digression is the repressive party in such a situation.

          It comes down to this: sporting uniformity or religious uniformity. In my mind there’s no contest. Sporting uniformity serves a practical purpose and that’s to create equality on the field of play. For me, ideological nullification is as important in this respect as the nullification of any equipment based advantages. On the contrary, religious uniformity serves no practical purpose other than control of individual expression. It fosters divisiveness, it can be used to oppress particular sections of the society it operates through and it’s anti-art. That’s the problem for me.

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 11:04 am |

          Please. Little League isn’t a “sporting body.” It’s not about teaching kids to play baseball; it’s about teaching them civic values, like teamwork, community, etc.

          I think the points you make could arguably be applied at the high school level or higher, and certainly at the professional level. But for Little League? The lessons the kids involved in this story learned about diversity, tolerance, and inclusion are far more important than anything they learned about baseball. And that’s entirely appropriate.

          Meanwhile, I notice you didn’t address my question about the Christian high school basketball players with the long pants.

        • Padday | June 3, 2014 at 11:18 am |

          Oh no. Don’t get me wrong on that. With regard to the particulars of the incident described above, I’m almost more likely to criticize the umpire. Causing a scene at a kids game, for whatever reason, is never, ever kosher regardless of the reason.

          However, you wrote about it knowing that this was about more than a little league game, and with the intention of sparking this particular debate. In fact you dedicated the final paragraph to this debate. Please don’t go acting like I, or anyone else, is mad for talking about the very issues you yourself raised.

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm |

          In fact you dedicated the final paragraph to this debate.

          And in that paragraph, I wrote, “Little League is one thing…”, because it never once occurred to me that anyone would see the Little League story as anything else as a feelgood win-win.

          Debating the implications for higher levels of sport? Yeah, that’s what I was hoping to do. But I’m astonished by the number of people who are taking issue with the kid and his tzitzit.

        • BrianC | June 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm |

          “I would argue that the presence of religious iconography/apparel similarly contravenes this sanctity of the ballpark.”

          “Then you’re basically saying that people who follow certain religious laws — laws that require them to wear certain attire — cannot participate in athletics.

          That’s a defensible intellectual position, but I sure wouldn’t want to be the one defending it.

          Tell me: Do you feel the same way about the Christian school whose basketball players wear the long pants?

          In any case, religion isn’t political (or at least it shouldn’t be). It’s part of the diversity of our culture, just like ethnic diversity. I’m against political messaging in sports because political messaging is, by definition, divisive. I don’t see the same thing about religious diversity. Yossi’s tzitzit aren’t sending any message except that he is an observant Jew. He’s not looking to convert anyone. What’s the problem?”

          I agree that it’s a bit silly at the Little League level, but it’s called a “uniform” for a reason. I’m a great supporter of freedom of religion, and if a league is part of a religious organization, such as Christian, Jewish or Muslim schools or organizations, they have some leeway as long as it’s standardized (i.e. long pants, hijabs, etc.). But what if I have an organized baseball team in an established league and one player wants to wear a Sikh turban, another a yarmulka, another can’t wear white, another wants to wear sandals, another a sombrero (we take every type), one won’t touch leather, another insists on sacrificing a goat before each at bat (hey, some guys takes so long at the plate they may as well), one can only run right so he insists on being allowed to run the bases from third to first… you get the point. And at the professional level, definitely not. It’s like that Muslim player who didn’t want to wear the team’s sponsor logo, as it’s a bank and thus against his beliefs. While I respect his devotion, as I see it he has three choices and three choices only. 1: sit out, unpaid until they change sponsors, 2: ask for a trade to another team, or 3: just man up and wear the damn shirt. No one thinks he’s supporting the sponsor; it’s not like you’re forced to do commercials for them or endorse or eat delicious Smithfield Ham if Smithfield Ham is your sponsor, or anything like that. If God strikes him dead I’ll apologize, but somehow I think He won’t, He’s pretty cool about that stuff. But if I were team management there’s no way I’d allow a player to wear a jersey that varied from the uniform regulations set down by the team and league. And no one is saying he can’t wear his religious garb or symbols on his own time or even under his uniform as long as it doesn’t show, he just has to follow the team uniform rules like everyone else while playing.

          Along those lines, as previously stated, I’m starting my own religion, Uni-Tarianism. We believe that ugly uniforms are an affront to our faith and, if any of our members are drafted by a team with a hideous uniform (say, the Seattle Seahawks), we demand the right to wear a better one (I’ve always liked the Raiders myself, maybe the Steelers). Or if the logo looks like it was designed by a twelve year old on crack we demand the right to wear a blank one. Sound silly? Not really. All religions are artificial constructs after all; it’s not like God came down and said, “Okay, you guys are going to wear yarmulkas, you guys are going to wear turbans, those guys over there observe the Sabbath on Sunday, you on Saturday, and, before I forget, you can’t eat pork and you guys over there, not only can’t you eat pork but alcohol is out, too”. The bottom line is that it really has nothing to do with religion per se, or anyone’s personal beliefs, it involves following the rules of an organization you opted to join. No one’s saying you can’t participate in athletics, it just says you have to obey the rules of said sport/league.

        • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 4:54 pm |

          “On the contrary, religious uniformity serves no practical purpose other than control of individual expression. It fosters divisiveness, it can be used to oppress particular sections of the society it operates through and it’s anti-art.”

          You realize that some of the most celebrated works of art in human history are religious in nature, right?

        • Padday | June 3, 2014 at 5:38 pm |

          Meanwhile, I notice you didn’t address my question about the Christian high school basketball players with the long pants.

          Sorry. I realise that I just keep ignoring that. Anyway, yes, I do have a problem with it. My problem though isn’t at all with the specific garments being worn, it’s with the reasoning that goes into their being worn. If they wore long pants because the gym they were playing in had heating problems then that’s fine. Wearing them out of “religious modesty” however is once again about making the purity of a sporting contest subservient to an outside dogma.

          I get that the Little League story is supposed to be about inclusiveness, accepting diversity etc. The problem I have is that sports already does that, but it does it precisely because things like religion, race, language etc. don’t matter, or at least they shouldn’t. It should be an environment where these things never need to get in the way of the natural bonding that occurs anyway. As I have said, sport is humanistic, the criteria for judgement are based in the real world: are they good at the sport? are they good teammates? do they have a good attitude? are they just generally fun to play with? All religious iconography/garments do in regard to this dynamic is introduce tokens of discrimination. Inclusiveness is great, but the ideal should be that children are inclusive because they grow up seeing others as people in themselves, not merely as token representations of otherness that they’re socially obliged to acknowledge specifically because of that otherness.

          I would just like to take it back to a point you made earlier, that religion isn’t (or shouldn’t) be political. But religion was politics before politics as we know it now existed. We’re not that far removed from a time when monarchs ruled with divine right and the Pope was the most powerful person in the western world. I live in Ireland, a country which went through almost a century of virtual theocracy. Growing up here, and studying its history has demonstrated to me the dangers of assuming religion is above the level of public scrutiny. If anything, religion, by dint of the fact that it is not answerable to democratic processes and yet commands greater obedience than most governments, deserves a greater public suspicion than most areas of life. For example, it is thoroughly indefensible for anybody sympathetic to women’s issues to see the Hijab as anything other than a blatant abuse of people’s spiritual vulnerability to dehumanise women and ensure they remain subservient to men. It’s not exactly a huge leap of the imagination to begin seeing where similar rules in other religions serve similar agendas of control, power and even money.

          Finally, you keep insisting that anybody taking a stance against the presence of religious garb in sports is somehow taking a stab at young Yossi Lipskier, which is a cheap rhetorical trick I’m sure you must acknowledge. The thing is, to assume that Yossi is somehow capable of acting completely of his own volition, in full freedom from outside influences in relation to his religion is ridiculous. When I was eight I wouldn’t have dreamed of not going to church or somehow even saying something bad about it. It’s not the heroic tale of a kid who stood up for his conscience, rather it’s the unfortunate tale of how a child, turned into a religious pawn by being dressed in symbols he as yet lacks the critical faculties to truly understand, became another victim in the onslaught being waged by intellectual, cultural and social luddites on modernity.

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm |

          you keep insisting that anybody taking a stance against the presence of religious garb in sports is somehow taking a stab at young Yossi Lipskier, which is a cheap rhetorical trick I’m sure you must acknowledge.

          It’s neither cheap nor a trick, and I have no plans to acknowledge it as either of those.

          I have only brought up Yossi and 9-year-olds when people have been discussing (a) Yossi and/or (b) Little Leaguers in general, because I think these issues apply differently to children than they do to adults or even young adults. That’s why the last graf of today’s lede included the line, “Little League is one thing, but…”

          When people have discussed these issues as they pertain to pro or college or even high school athletes, I have not invoked Yossi. Go ahead and see for yourself.

          The rest of your points are well-stated and intellectually consistent, all of which I respect, although I don’t agree with your conclusions.

      • Le Cracquere | June 3, 2014 at 11:16 am |

        I don’t know about that argument. If divisiveness were the ONLY baggage that camo carried, I’d have no problem with it: it’s hard to think of any item of gear that couldn’t possibly rub at least ONE jackleg out there the wrong way, and hence count as “divisive.” Even if every single fan were on board with the implied message, the perceived tastelessness or inappropriateness of its expression would remain a major issue for many.

        What’s more, when the players wear camo uniforms, it’s unambiguously a team-sponsored message, and can’t possibly be taken as anything else. So whether or not to wear them is unquestionably the team’s call. So the camo arguments don’t really apply here.

        Now, you can reasonably ask how ironclad a given religious obligation really is, and how much it’s likely to interfere with play. On both these counts, it seems decent and prudent in most cases to let the man wear his tzitzit/yarmulke/beard/etc. … particularly since this ISN’T France.

        Now, a Sikh dagger? We’re getting into thornier territory–glad I don’t work for the league.

      • KT | June 3, 2014 at 11:40 am |

        You lost me at “sanctity of the ballpark.”

        They have sausage races, for crying out loud.

        • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm |

          “They have sausage races, for crying out loud.”

          Have you been to Miller Park? The sausage races are most definitely a religious experience for many there.

        • Padday | June 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm |

          That’s actually a very good illustration of what I meant by “sanctity of the ballpark”. The “ultimate importance and inviolability” (Oxford definition of “sanctity”) of the ballpark is that it is a place of good nature fun, relaxation and lighthearted indulgence of the Earthly absurdity that is organized sport. Religious asceticism has no place in such an atmosphere.

        • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm |

          “Religious asceticism has no place in such an atmosphere.”

          What do you consider “religious asceticism”? Is any outward expression of faith, by your definition, ascetic?

        • hugh.c.mcbride | June 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm |

          You lost me at “sanctity of the ballpark.” They have sausage races, for crying out loud.

          Gotta be QOTD, yes? I love love LOVE going to the ballpark, but I absolutely agree with KT’s comment here.

      • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm |

        “And this is the thing for me, if taking some kind of performance enhancing drug or using a piece of equipment you believe to give you an advantage, like a corked bat, is considered cheating, why not appealing to a supernatural being to help you?”

        How is appealing to one’s deity for peak personal performance cheating? If you believe in a supreme being, why wouldn’t you appeal to that entity for assistance in every aspect of life? Should praying before an academic exam also be considered cheating?

      • Thomas J | June 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm |

        Camo uniforms are worn by the entire team and backed up by merchandising. The players who wear those jerseys, do not normally go around wearing camo, let alone have a personal religious obligation to do so.

        If an MLB team chose to outfit its entire club saffron in support of Tibetan Buddhism (and in a sense by extension independence from China), and then sell that merchandise in the team store it could be analogous to camo. That would be a potentially divisive religious display.

    • ScottyM | June 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm |

      I’m with Jeff. Why is religion the end-all-be-all in decision-making?

      Team sports are about unity. And with that comes the role and responsibility of the coach to instruct and teach in the manner s/he sees fit. It’s an OPPORTUNITY to learn something. Like Coach Wooden, who shared with Bill Walton the importance of his no unkempt hair policy … not to mention his policy for dressing socks, tying shoes, etc.

      You don’t like the coach’s teaching style? You don’t have to play. Sure, there’s an opportunity to learn about religion allowing a kid to wear long pants, yarmulke, etc. However, it’s an even better opportunity (IMO) to teach children how to unite under ONE banner. There are two “I’s” in religion, but there’s no “I” in team. I also believe the coach can dictate how a uniform is worn … i.e., bloused pants, stirrups and the like. You don’t like it? Don’t play, or play for somebody else.

      It’s not about control or being a hard-ass tyrant of a coach, it’s about teaching kids, young adults, and adults how to work together and perform as a team. Frankly, sometimes good teaching/coaching means limiting personal freedoms for that specific period of time (a class, a game, a practice, etc). You can wear your religious garb before/after that special period.

      • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm |

        Why is religion the end-all-be-all in decision-making?

        It isn’t. You don’t get it — this isn’t about personal religious expression. The kid isn’t expressing anything. Wearing tzitzit IS WHO HE IS. Telling an observant Orthodox Jewish male not to wear tzitzit is like telling a black person to stop being black. It’s WHO HE IS.

        Maybe you think that’s weird. And you’re right — lots of Orthodox Jewish rituals and laws *are* weird!

        But that doesn’t mean a kid shouldn’t be allowed to play Little League.

        As for all your other stuff (pants blousing, “If you don’t like it go play for someone else,” blah-blah-blah), that’s total bullshit. These are nine-year-olds. There are other lessons to learn here besides high-cuffery.

        • ScottyM | June 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm |

          Grumpy much, Paul? Can you express a point without being belligerent?

          I don’t think Orthodox Jews are weird or have weird rituals. To each their own. And I understand the point just fine. Hence, why many Samoans wear their hair long. However, that is NOT “who they are.” It’s a choice, based on their culture. The Samoan’s skin color is not a choice.

          What this is is the equivalent of telling a black child he can’t wear an African kente stole during the game, or at graduation, etc.

          What a kid adorns himself with… “a knotted ritual fringe” … is a choice. A yarmulke is a choice. Long pants – choice. Headdress – choice.

          Not easy choices for some, or ones without consequence, for sure. But they’re without question CHOICES. Comparison with skin color? You know better than that.

          PS, go ahead and take my comment about “blousing/stirrups” out of context… just a simple example. More relevant to college or pro coaches. And relevant in the context of the way John Wooden left no question about details/teamwork unattended.

          The point is that a team setting is a learning opportunity. It certainly goes both ways. Religion does not need to be bullet-proof.

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm |

          What this is is the equivalent of telling a black child he can’t wear an African kente stole during the game, or at graduation, etc.

          Poor analogy. That’s an expression of heritage, which is a choice; wearing tzitzit is following Jewish law.

          As for belligerence, anyone who would tell a 9-year-old, “If you don’t like it, play for someone else” has a lot more to learn about issues of tone than I do.

  • Cab647 | June 3, 2014 at 8:09 am |

    Think it should be new Big 12 logo at Iowa St, unless the conference rejigging is more out of hand than I thought.

  • Robb | June 3, 2014 at 8:10 am |

    The ISU referenced in the Big 12 logo tweet is Iowa State, not Illinois State.

  • Jason Bray | June 3, 2014 at 8:11 am |

    Iowa State not Illinois State for the new XII logo.

  • Iain | June 3, 2014 at 8:16 am |

    FIFA recently ruled that religious headwear can be worn during soccer games – http://www.cbc.ca/ne...

  • jwl3 | June 3, 2014 at 8:16 am |

    That Big12 logo is on Iowa State’s pitch, not Illinois State’s.

  • John | June 3, 2014 at 8:18 am |

    It’s little league baseball, can’t the kid leave religion at home for two hours?

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 8:58 am |

      A model of tolerance, you are.

      Tell me, do you feel the same way about the other religious examples I cited (the high school basketball team wearing long pants, the Muslim sprinter wearing the hijab, etc.)?

    • Jimbo | June 3, 2014 at 9:29 am |

      I’ve coached youth sports, including baseball, for over 10 years and I was not surprised to read that the Little Leaguer’s team supported him. Kids usually make the right choice in these matters. I must tip my cap to that team’s coach, who obviously sets the right tone for the team.

      Ultimately, youth sports is about building character. I want all the kids I coach to grow to be quality adults. In doing so, they need to learn that standing up for your team and what you believe in isn’t always easy. I’ve coached orthodox Jewish kids who couldn’t play on Saturdays and fundamentalist Christian kids who couldn’t play on Sundays. I tell kids in similar situation that I’m impressed they are sticking to their beliefs and their sacrifice shows they really mean what they say.

      So, to answer your question about “can’t kids leave religion at home,” the answer is no. Religion is part of many people’s lives. Sports reflect our lives, so religion is going to always be part of sports. In youth sports this simply provides another opportunity for kids to learn about the diversity of human life.

      • Jim Vilk | June 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm |

        Well said.

      • ScottyM | June 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm |

        Wouldn’t it be just as character-driven for the coach to respect the child’s conviction (or, more appropriately, the parents’ conviction on behalf of their child), and still do what s/he feels is appropriate for the team? Character-building moments don’t always turn out in an individual’s favor to be “positive” learning experiences.

        Religion has no more of a place in youth sports than overt “winning” has in youth sports. It’s about unity, listening, growing, having fun/friendship, and learning to do the best that one is capable of doing. At what point is religion a distraction to the above? I dunno, but I think it’s possible that the coach (or league) should reserve the right to decide that threshold.

        • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm |

          “Religion has no more of a place in youth sports than overt “winning” has in youth sports. It’s about unity, listening, growing, having fun/friendship, and learning to do the best that one is capable of doing. At what point is religion a distraction to the above? I dunno, but I think it’s possible that the coach (or league) should reserve the right to decide that threshold.”

          In Yossi and his team’s case, they learned valuable lessons about “unity, listening, growing, having fun/friendship, and learning to do the best that one is capable of doing” precisely because of Yossi’s commitment to his religious beliefs. Respect for diversity in religious beliefs belongs in youth sports because it belongs in our society as a whole. And isn’t that the whole point of youth sports in the first place – to teach lessons that make kids better members of their community in the long run?

        • Token Orthodox Jew | June 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm |

          “Religion has no more of a place in youth sports than overt “winning” has in youth sports. It’s about unity, listening, growing, having fun/friendship, and learning to do the best that one is capable of doing. At what point is religion a distraction to the above? I dunno, but I think it’s possible that the coach (or league) should reserve the right to decide that threshold.”

          Why do we have to pretend that everyone is identical? Some kids wear kippot/yarmulkes, some women wear hijabs, some people have facial hair, some don’t. Why is the fact that we’re not all identical a problem? Why can’t kids learn unity, and teamwork, and camaraderie, and all that good stuff from youth sports even if some of them look a little different? I think you’re selling America’s kids a little short. There’s no reason religion (or lack thereof, depending on the situation) has to be a “distraction” at all.

          The first time non-Jewish kids meet an observant Jew, or Muslim, or Sikh, (or vice versa), there might be a little confusion. But there’s no reason after roughly the first practice or two that the kids can’t accept that especially in America, some people are different from others. Some people wear different, even weird, clothes, and that’s not the end of the world. No one is imposing anyone’s values onto anyone else.

          As long as the religious garment doesn’t significantly interfere with the game, I see no reason why a kid shouldn’t be able to wear it. Tzitzit could be a problem, but speaking as an Orthodox Jew, there’s no reason they can’t be tucked in. A yarmulke should be no problem, as would a hijab in most instances.

          My point is this. People are different, most of the time it’s not a significant issue. Occasionally, even in this context, a religious item could get in the way, but the vast majority of the time, this instance included, there shouldn’t be an issue. Just look at how Yossi’s (non-Jewish) team reacted.

    • Le Cracquere | June 3, 2014 at 11:17 am |

      No, not rightly considered. Nor ought he to.

  • Mark in Shiga | June 3, 2014 at 8:19 am |

    Paul, typo alert:

    “the Muslim sprinter who wore a hajib”

    That veil is a hijab (or, in Egyptian Arabic, a higab).

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:02 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Bill S | June 3, 2014 at 8:20 am |

    AZ Cardinals website shows photos from OTAs and no one else pictured has striped helmets.

    • Phil Hecken | June 3, 2014 at 9:30 am |

      Yeah, if you read some of the comments after my tweet, it seems that 1) it’s only QBs who have the stripe and 2) it’s done (as is mentioned below in the comments) so that the receivers (or DBs) can more easily see which direction the QB is looking (or at least which way his head is facing).

  • jon | June 3, 2014 at 8:25 am |

    “powwow”? for a site that is championing the cause to remove the name “redskins” that seems kind of offensive.

    • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 8:57 am |

      Wait, using a term derived from a First Nations language is as offensive as coopting native imagery and using a slur as a team nickname?

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 8:59 am |
      • jon | June 3, 2014 at 9:42 am |

        Fair enough. I stand corrected. I thought it was an seen as an offensive term.

    • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 9:29 am |

      Indeed. Also, note the irony that Paul used the word “Arizona,” which is derived from an Indian term for “silver place” or “little spring.” Obviously, using any word of Native origin is just as offensive as calling Native people “redskins,” in exactly the same way that using the word “jazz,” which derives from West African languages spoken by American slaves, is just as offensive as calling black people “niggers.”

      • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:37 am |

        Biggest irony of all: As you can see in today’s splash photo, Yossi’s team is the Braves.

      • Mark in Shiga | June 3, 2014 at 9:53 am |

        Scott, may I ask a tangential follow-up question? By “little spring”, are you referring to the season (after winter) or to a spring from which water wells up?

        I ask because “little (water) spring” is the exact translation of the very common Japanese surname Koizumi, borne by (among others) the recent prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. I wonder if he ever made a state visit to Arizona. On the opposite side, the city of Obama in Fukui Prefecture has plenty of supporters of the US president; Arizona should do the same thing.

  • Connie DC | June 3, 2014 at 8:28 am |

    “… Trevor Williams has outdone himself — all the rest of this news is from him: Official release of the home and away Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014 World Cup kits. … Non-World Cup Nations: Home and away 2014 kits for South Africa and home 2014 kit for Uganda…”

    Whoa, Trevor, thanks. I like that Uganda shirt a lot. The South Africa uni is good overall (I’m a total sucker for yellow), though the over-busy chest is bothersome. And the Bosnia-Herzegovina is classically staid. But poor B&H! Not really a nation state so much as a cease-fire zone. When the insignia for your country is a map encircled by its name in three different languages… And lest we forget: the “B&H Question” provided the spark in the tinderbox that lit the fuse to the most consequential war in history… So, OK, I guess, let’s keep the clumsy three-way compromise…

    • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 9:06 am |

      You’re selling B&H short. It’s a great place to buy cameras and photo equipment!

      Anyway, I’m thinking they didn’t get much love from Adidas since they only switched suppliers in March and they clearly aren’t high on the stripey company’s list of priorities.

      South Africa’s new kit has a distinctly NCAA feel. And nice to see Aston Villa pick an away kit that doesn’t clash with other teams that wear claret.

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:08 am |

      Their federation logo does leave something to be desired, especially since Bosnia and Herzegovina have such an amazing flag.

    • trevor | June 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm |

      Since Bosnia are the dragons, they could go the Cardiff City route with their crest.

  • LiketheRiver | June 3, 2014 at 8:28 am |

    That might be the largest Soccer ticker section we’ve seen. Very Nice!

  • John | June 3, 2014 at 8:38 am |

    “After a quick pow wow, the coaches and umpire smokem peace pipe, and allowed game to continue”.

  • Rob S | June 3, 2014 at 8:44 am |

    Those NBA sneakers look like they’d fit well with the early 1990s All-Star Game unis – the ones with the screen-printed “chrome”. Might also work with the 76ers’ unis from that era.

  • Skye McLeod | June 3, 2014 at 8:45 am |

    I couldn’t find any pictures but I remember Lewis & Clark College in Oregon having a Sikh player on their baseball team a couple of years ago. He wore a turban that was the same color as the team’s hats and a visor with the team logo, so it looked for all intents and purposes like he was wearing the same headgear as his teammates. Does anyone else recall this or anything like this?

    • walter | June 3, 2014 at 9:28 am |

      I recall the effort for the team to accommodate their player as note of grace, and wondering if other teams would go so far.

    • Name redacted | June 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm |

      There has been a running debate in Quebec about playing being allowed to wear religious head gear too.

  • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 8:52 am |

    Right now, SI.com’s soccer page features a photo of Paul Caligiuri from the 1990 World Cup qualifier that changed everything, and I’m finding little uni details that we rarely see now at the top level:

    * The old US Soccer crest
    * The old Adidas Trefoil logo
    * Satin nylon shorts
    * Short shorts
    * Jersey tucked in
    * Generic block type uni number
    * Black Copa Mundial boots

    About the only thing missing is the mullet.

  • Tim E. O'B | June 3, 2014 at 8:56 am |

    “All you Chicago-area readers, remember that there’s a Uni Watch party coming up this Saturday, June 7, 6pm, at the Black Rock Bar.”

    WOO WALKING DISTANCE!

    But seriously, I should – hopefully – be able to make an appearance. Sounds like fun.

  • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 8:58 am |

    Any supposedly all-knowing “God” would surely understand the circumstances and allow for occasional exception, right? Isn’t faith about what you feel, not what you wear?

    This seems an exceptionally arrogant way to look at the question. “If your so-called god were real, surely he would behave in the way I assume to be correct, so you should stuff your conscience and obey me.” And I get it! I’m a Christian, yet I often feel exactly this way myself. But the variety of beliefs is such that there would be no way to fairly settle the argument between any two people who seek, like The, to impose their particular theology on everyone else. A believer of any faith could just as well respond, “Any supposedly decent person would surly understand the circumstances and allow for an occasional exception, right?” And for many, faith is very much not “about what you feel,” or even what you believe – “orthodoxy” means “right belief” – but also or even more so about what you do – “orthorpraxy,” or “right practice.” That might mean that you worship every Sunday, or take communion in remembrance of Jesus and the new covenant, or it might mean that you fast during daylight one month a year, or it might mean that you spend a year after high school as a missionary, or it might mean that you wear certain undergarments. Even to little league games.

    Personally, I take Ishmael’s approach from “Moby Dick”:

    Now, as I before hinted, I have no objection to any person’s religion, be it what it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person don’t believe it also. But when a man’s religion becomes really frantic; when it is a positive torment to him; and, in fine, makes this earth of ours an uncomfortable inn to lodge in; then I think it high time to take that individual aside and argue the point with him.

    Wearing a tasseled shirt, or a Sikh turban, or Mormon drawers, or even a hijab, on the playing field in most cases doesn’t rise to the level of killing or insulting anyone else, nor to the level of tormenting the wearer, so it really isn’t any concern of mine. I therefore don’t have any right to object, and so therefore I am obliged to seek to accommodate the other person’s religious practice as best I can. (“Torment” in Melville’s passage refers to Ishmael’s mistaken belief that Queequeg was starving himself to death during Ramadan. It was actually Ishmael’s overpreening, paternalistic concern for Queequeg, not Queequeg’s fast, that caused the torment in the chapter.)

    • Phil Hecken | June 3, 2014 at 9:25 am |

      “Personally, I take Ishmael’s approach from ‘Moby Dick’.”

      ~~~

      Way too early in the morning for this…

      • BrianC | June 3, 2014 at 4:41 pm |

        Hey, every morning I ask myself “What would Ishmael do?”

        • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm |

          He’d ask you to call him Ishmael.

    • Token Orthodox Jew | June 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm |

      +1

  • Dumb Guy | June 3, 2014 at 9:00 am |

    Stripe on Cards helmet:

    Hah-ruh-bull!

  • Yosef Mordechai Coleman | June 3, 2014 at 9:01 am |

    in the New York State Metropolitan area the jewish girls high schools in the yeshiva league has teams wearing long pants for basketball and other sports for modesty reasons as well

  • Bryan | June 3, 2014 at 9:05 am |

    I’m not religious, but definitely support the right of religious people to observe whatever beliefs they have as long as it doesn’t provide an unfair advantage.

    As for the Detroit FC team wearing gay pride stuff, I don’t see why they feel the need to put causes out there. I’m pro on the subject btw so I’m not biased. I also dont’ support cancer month either in the bigs. While most are great causes, they should be left off the field. If the bigs feel so strongly about it, then donate more.

    • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 9:16 am |

      re: Detroit City

      That’s space where advertising would normally go. Given the choice, I’d rather see a team advertise a social cause/non-profit than a corporation.

      And there’s a difference between simply donating to an organization, and showing support to/bringing awareness of an event. As much as I hate the pink-out, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month couldn’t have achieved common knowledge status if the NFL had simply cut a check to Komen.

      • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 9:17 am |

        Also, I think there’s a social good that can be achieved by an organization outwardly expressing support for a cause, and can’t be bought with money.

        • Bryan | June 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm |

          You aren’t really such a terrible human. ;)

          You are right about getting the cause more in the public’s eye. I will say that Detroit has guts for picking a side in a still polarizing, taboo subject. Hats off to them as it could cost them fans/attendees and possibly sponsorships.

        • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm |

          Is the notion that gay people should be allowed to play sports really a “still polarizing, taboo subject”?

  • Don G | June 3, 2014 at 9:11 am |

    As a Cardinals fan, I’m extremely disappointed the Cubs aren’t wearing Rockford Peach throwbacks and letting Tom Hanks at least coach first.

    • Dumb Guy | June 3, 2014 at 9:39 am |

      I can see you are extremely disappointed… but are you crying? Are you crying??!!

      • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:15 am |

        FWIW, late last summer I had the opportunity to pitch throwback events to the Brewers, and suggested that they might remember the 1944 Milwaukee Schnitts/Chicks this season. Alas, not to be.

    • Bryan | June 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm |

      Don, as a Cubs fan I would support this idea. Tom Hanks really should have won that championship, and has proven leadership skills.

      • Don G | June 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm |

        If he can create a person out of a volleyball, he can make the Cubs winners.

  • Ricky Davis | June 3, 2014 at 9:12 am |

    Not sure about batting, but if that kid is a pitcher, I would imagine that the ump would have him take off the tzitzit because pitcher are not allowed to have white sleeves or items dangling from their uniform.

    • Jimbo | June 3, 2014 at 9:40 am |

      I’ve had a a pitcher wear tzitzit before and it does NOT give the pitcher any advantage. It wasn’t even something the batter paid any attention to, and this was a white tzitzit on navy blue pants. These were 10 year olds, but it was a non-factor in the game.

      • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm |

        Maybe not to 10 year olds, but in an adult game one could easily make the case that it’s distracting to a batter.

        • Token Orthodox Jew | June 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm |

          He could easily tuck them in if asked. He wasn’t though.

  • Dane | June 3, 2014 at 9:12 am |

    Yeshiva University basketball players wear their yarmulkes during games. In the games I saw in the 90′s, the referees will immediately stop the game if a yarmulke becomes dislodged and falls on the court.

    http://www.yuhsb.org...

    http://static01.nyt....

    There was also a non-uniform consideration that occurred once. Before my alma mater had a women’s basketball team, there was a female player on the men’s team for one season. Yeshiva requested (or demanded, in some versions) that she not be part of the active roster, or they would not play the game.

    • Jimbo | June 3, 2014 at 9:50 am |

      Having a yarmulke fall onto the ground during a soccer game is a pain in the neck. When I have a player who wears one I tell them that it must be well secured or they can’t play. A few years ago, I had one kid who’s yarmulke regularly fell off his head, while another kid on the team never lost his. I put them side by side to see what the difference was. The kid losing his yarmulke had one bobby pin holding it in place, the other used several bobby pins and a “kippon” (velcro). I knew nothing about how to attach a yarmulke, so I told kid “A” to do what kid “B” does and that solved the problem.

      It’s similar to athletes wearing glasses. If it’s done properly, it’s not a problem.

  • Morte | June 3, 2014 at 9:26 am |

    Adding stripes to QB helmets is done so the DBs can get used to seeing the direction the QB is looking, letting them learn to read the QB’s head, and thus eyes, easier. We do this in college frequently.

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:39 am |

      Great info — thank you!

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:34 am |

      I wonder how that translates into game conditions.

      Can Chicago Bears DBs read Aaron Rodgers’s eyes more easily than Green Bay DBs can read Jay Cutler’s? And knowing that, can Rodgers more easily fake out his opponents?

      • Phil Hecken | June 3, 2014 at 11:50 am |

        Do a lot of people have trouble reading Cutler’s eyes?

  • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 9:28 am |

    BTW, Tamir Goodman, who had 15 minutes of fame in the 90s as the “Jewish Jordan, is selling SportStrings, a workout-friendly tzitzit with a compression shirt built in.

  • Adam N. | June 3, 2014 at 9:30 am |

    I have no problem with religious expression on the field, so long as it isn’t distracting (a subjective term, I’m aware).

    I can see how the tzitzit would be distracting to the pitcher, catcher, and umpire when the player is bent over at the plate. I can also see it being a problem if a pitcher wears it. Could they compromise and tuck it in during those activities but go ahead and leave it out when playing in the field or when they’re on the base paths?

    To be fair, I would have the same issue with a large cross necklace that hangs outside of the jersey or a hijab that is not wrapped tight/clean enough.

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:36 am |

      Keep in mind that the issue wasn’t about whether the tzitzit were distracting; it was about whether the tzitzit provided an unfair advantage.

      • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 9:40 am |

        Though in baseball, a distracting element on a pitcher’s uniform is considered an advantage, right?

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:52 am |

          That’s not an advantage — that’s a safety hazard. A distracted batter is a batter who can lose sight of the ball, and losing sight of the ball is dangerous.

      • Adam N. | June 3, 2014 at 9:50 am |

        The only ‘advantage’ that could have been perceived would be one created by the tzitzit being a distraction.

        Unless they meant it created an unfair advantage because the player would benefit from divine intervention while wearing it.

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:01 am |

          The only ‘advantage’ that could have been perceived would be one created by the tzitzit being a distraction.

          No, as I’ve already explained, the tzitzit could make it more likely for him to be nicked by a pitch, which would indeed be an advantage. But that’s easy to solve: You simply stipulate that the tzitzit do not count as part of the uniform for purposes of the HBP rule.

  • Rich P | June 3, 2014 at 9:42 am |

    Sorry to poss come off as an asshole here, but I FIRMLY believe that if wearing religious garb is somehow “necessary” to your beliefs, then don’t play sports. I am not particularly religious so maybe my views are skewed that way, but if the rules state that you cannot wear something, then don’t play or just take of whatever it is. Your god won’t send you straight to hell because for an hour and a half you didn’t wear your tzitzit. But in this day and age, we can’t risk offending anyone or not allowing someone to broadcast their beliefs, etc. I guess I’ll just never understand how someone’s god is going to punish them or view them as disrespectful if you’re not wearing something during a game.

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:50 am |

      I don’t think you understand how tzitzit work.

      The kid was not “broadcasting” anything. This is WHO HE IS. Asking him to remove the tzitzit would be like asking him to remove his hand.

      You may think that’s ridiculous (frankly, *I* think it’s ridiculous), but that’s not the point. Why should his religious observance keep him from playing Little League?

      Also, in your first sentence, why did you put “necessary” in quotes? Are you being ironic, or just ridiculing someone else’s beliefs?

      • Adam N. | June 3, 2014 at 9:56 am |

        “Why should his religious observance keep him from playing Little League?”

        To play devils advocate, isn’t that a bit like asking why being a muslim should prevent someone from playing mixed gender intramural sports, or why practicing a ‘non-violent’ religion prevents someone from playing football?

        If your religion says you must wear something that is prohibited from a particular sport/activity, then doesn’t your religion (by extension) prohibit you from playing that sport? They’re choices (as is the ‘choice’ of the league to allow the exception).

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 9:59 am |

          But there’s no rule against tzitzit. It’s part of an undergarment, like a T-shirt. The umpire initially thought it provided an unfair advantage — THAT’S the only rule that was in play here — and then the coaches and ump worked it out.

          You seem annoyed that they worked it out.

        • Adam N. | June 3, 2014 at 10:07 am |

          I’m not at all annoyed that they worked it out, quite the opposite. But, I can see why it was raised as an issue. I’m also commenting on the larger picture, which I thought you were inviting with your last paragraph.

          In the larger picture, I think its fair to debate both a league’s motivations (what they should consider when determining whether to allow something), and a player’s motivations.

      • Rich P | June 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm |

        I am sorry, I wasn’t trying to ridicule by putting necessary in quotations. To me something that is necessary is something that is essential – an oxygen tank, or a insulin pump- is necessary. A piece of religious clothing isn’t necessary in terms of “essential to one’s well being” like a piece of medical equipment.

        I am not religious so it’s hard for me to picture wearing something for those reasons. That’s my own ingnorance that I need to work on. Little League is about teaching kids, so I don’t get why the umpire would really make an issue out of it, but the other side of the coin, to me, is hey just take it off for an hour or two.

        Just because I think that the kid should remove it doesn’t mean I am intolerant, i think there’s a middle ground where people can say, hey take it off for an hour without them being labeled as some sort of indecent shithead. No?

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm |

          Just because I think that the kid should remove it doesn’t mean I am intolerant, i think there’s a middle ground where people can say, hey take it off for an hour without them being labeled as some sort of indecent shithead. No?

          Um, did anyone call you intolerant or an indecent shithead? If so, I missed it.

        • Rich P | June 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm |

          It’s not an exact science, but sometimes you can sense a tone when someone says something to you -I got that vibe. Also, I understand and respect other’s beliefs, and what those other kids did was a touching show of support-the biggest takeaway from your post. However, I feel sexuality, religion, and politics are things that don’t need to be expressed in public and I would prefer to just watch a kid’s game without that aspect of life being involved.

        • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm |

          So basically, if you want to play ball, don’t be who you are. Don’t be gay, don’t be Orthodox, don’t stand out. Don’t like it? GTFO. Right?

          That feels awfully counter to the missions of most youth sports leagues.

        • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm |

          You (and others) keep saying the kid is “expressing his religion,” but he’s not.

          He’s not expressing anything, he’s not sending a message, he’s not communicating anything to anyone. He’s wearing something that his religion compels him to wear. It’s not about anyone else; it’s about *him.* If he had a knee condition and wore a knee brace, that wouldn’t be sending a message either. That’s the simplest analogy I can make. It’s just WHO HE IS.

          If he drew a Star of David on the mound, that would be a form of messaging. When Barry Bonds wore a cross earring, that was a form of messaging. This kid isn’t choosing to do wear tzitzit — as an observant Orthodox Jewish male, he HAS to do it.

          You may find that odd (and I agree). But that’s not the point. The point is understanding the different between religious expression and religious identity.

      • StLMarty | June 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm |

        I think it’s too early to tell if this is who this kid is. Most nine year olds have a tendency to be who their parents want them to be.
        Religion can be an awfully large burden to place on a child.

        • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm |

          That’s another interesting thought. Although we from the outside cannot presume to say if this is his own expression. We have to take it on faith.

      • BrianC | June 4, 2014 at 11:21 am |

        “Asking him to remove the tzitzit would be like asking him to remove his hand.”

        Really? It’s part of his body? Bad analogy. It’s part of his religion, not his anatomy. And no one’s asking him to remove it, just cover it with his uniform.

    • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 9:53 am |

      But aren’t the rest of us worse off if we ask athletes (especially young ones) to choose between practicing their faith and participating? I want the Orthodox Jewish kid and the Shikh kid playing on the same team as my kids.

      And while I’m not religious (I’m agnostic, actually), I can imagine that their issue isn’t so much that they’re afraid of retribution from a scary, vengeful god, but the belief that religion is a full-time commitment rather than something you just do for a couple of hours on Sunday/Saturday.

      • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:30 am |

        I want the Orthodox Jewish kid and the Shikh kid playing on the same team as my kids.

        Amen, brother. I’d say that’s one of the points of youth team sports in the first place.

      • Teebz | June 3, 2014 at 11:50 am |

        “I want the Orthodox Jewish kid and the Shikh kid playing on the same team as my kids.”

        1000x awesome, TH. The voice of one is more powerful than the voice of hundreds with a message like this.

      • Token Orthodox Jew | June 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm |

        “I can imagine that their issue isn’t so much that they’re afraid of retribution from a scary, vengeful god, but the belief that religion is a full-time commitment rather than something you just do for a couple of hours on Sunday/Saturday.”

        This exactly.

        • Le Cracquere | June 4, 2014 at 10:25 am |

          Ding ding DING! We has a winner.

          And I believe that the vast majority of people arguing against the kid’s tzitzit are doing so in complete good faith. But in a few responses, I sense that what’s really discomfiting is PRECISELY the refusal of faith to be domesticated, or treated as something secondary and dispensable in a pinch.

    • Ben Fortney | June 3, 2014 at 10:29 am |

      Couldn’t the kid have tucked in the tassels?

      • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:41 am |

        The whole point of tzitzit is that they’re exposed.

  • RJ | June 3, 2014 at 9:44 am |

    At the risk of ignorance, could the tzitzit strings be tucked in?

    In terms of advantage, I could see wanting to be clear hitting them with a pitch would not be a HBP. If pitching, much like Pascal Perez’s gold chains were a distraction, I could see how strings could be from the hitters perspective.

    Major props to both Yossi and his teammates for handling that situation as adult as they did.

    I was raised Catholic, my Jewish college roommate did not wear these.

    • Ben Fortney | June 3, 2014 at 10:29 am |

      Jeez, this was right underneath the comment box. I gotta read more..

    • Token Orthodox Jew | June 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm |

      Knowing the theology, yes he could have tucked them in.

      • Token Orthodox Jew | June 3, 2014 at 8:40 pm |

        Well, let me clarify. Not all Orthodox Jews agree on religious issues (understatement of the year). Some think that tzitzit should be worn openly, so some might disagree with my above comment.

        But I think there would be pretty much universal agreement that it’s more important that he wear and tuck in the tzitzit than not play.

  • Original Jim | June 3, 2014 at 9:50 am |

    As an official, many times I have to work games with players sporting religious clothing or ornaments. By the letter of the law, if any of these items can pose a hazard to other players, or in any way cause that player an advantage, they need to be removed.

    For the tzitzit, I may have asked if he could have worn it so it stuck out the back of the pants rather than the side (not knowing if Jewish doctrine specified its location). This way, it would be treated the same as any other piece of non-standard equipment, such as an insulin pump (which I’ve also seen on-court and on-field).

    This is not much different than an umpire making a player (usually a pitcher) remove excessive jewelry, although jewelry can produce reflections and distract a batter.

    In basketball, we use rules set forth by IAABO. IAABO states that only rubber/elastic/cloth may be used to tie one’s hair down. Yet many players use bobby pins and barrettes, all of which can cause injury to one’s self and others with contact, or can fall out of the hair and pose a hazard on the floor. So we have the players remove them before the game starts. However, that doesn’t leave many options for players who have to wear yarmulkes…most have to use a plastic or metal clip. So we have to see if there is an alternative solution that allows the player to keep it on without creating a potential hazard for other players.

    Age of the player aside, as long as the pregame discussion involving both coaches and officials covers possible situations of the tzitzit making contact with a live ball, then let him play. For every sport, as long as there is a good pregame between officials, coaches, and/or captains, this stuff can be worked out in everyone’s best interest.

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:08 am |

      I may have asked if he could have worn it so it stuck out the back of the pants rather than the side (not knowing if Jewish doctrine specified its location).

      Doesn’t work that way. The fringes are attached to the four corners of the prayer shawl, which is worn as an undergarment. They’re in fixed locations.

      • Original Jim | June 3, 2014 at 10:54 am |

        Understood. So this is definitely something we’d discuss with coaches during pregame.

      • Le Cracquere | June 3, 2014 at 11:22 am |

        If it genuinely seemed to somehow affect a pitcher’s delivery–or even more important, the batter’s PERCEPTION of his delivery–I wonder if the tzitzit could be partially pinned to the baseball pants in a way that made it a little more form-fitting, and caused it to dangle outward less.

        • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm |

          In a more competitive game than most 9-year-olds play, that may be the ideal solution.

  • Jacob | June 3, 2014 at 9:53 am |

    My 9 year old plays in the minors division of a small Little League (5 teams) in a really diverse area. The 3 umpires are all fervent about not allowing players to wear anything that could be – even in the most remotest of scenarios – a hazard, including any type of bracelet or necklace.

    I haven’t seen any kids wearing tzitzits yet, but a kid was told to remove the scapular that he wore under his shirt.

    It seems like this situation was ultimately resolved, but knowing our three umpires, and how sincerely they feel about player safety(they have some horrific, absurd stories about the things they’ve seen on the diamond) I would be willing to – initially, at least – give an official the benefit of the doubt about his/her motivation on a call like this.

    • Original Jim | June 3, 2014 at 10:58 am |

      Safety is the bottom line. It’s never about not being able to express one’s faith. It’s only about making sure that anything the player feels he needs to wear (in addition to standard uniform) poses neither an advantage (clothing/jewelry that hang out make it more likely to create contact) nor a hazard (when they get dislodged or fall off).

      Any time someone might protest, all we have to do if argue in favor of player safety, and we will almost always have the backing of our organization.

  • Tom V. | June 3, 2014 at 10:05 am |

    Back when I ran track and XC in HS, there was a pretty simple rule. You could wear your uniform. You couldn’t wear any jewelry, watches, etc, I’m not sure if it extended to religious wear (I suspect it did as I never saw anyone wearing anything). And I think it was a pretty good rule, no superstitions, no timing yourself, no religion, just you against against yourself. You got to see your time when you were in sight of the finish line.

    So I think the little league should follow the NCAA’s direction on this. Make the rules you feel are right, important and permit fair play, and if someone doesn’t like the rules, they don’t have to play in that league.

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:10 am |

      I think the little league should follow the NCAA’s direction on this.

      Yeah, because Little League and the NCAA are extremely comparable in so many ways…..

  • Morris Levin | June 3, 2014 at 10:11 am |

    I have played competitive baseball and softball wearing tzittzit, and have played in the Jerusalem religious seminary softball league where you have tzittzit, and yarmulkes, and peyot. For recreational softball and baseball, my tzittzit are no more obstructive than the numerous accessories and accoutrements we as contemporary ballplayers adorn ourselves with from necklaces, to bracelets, baggy jerseys and sleeves, and body-armor. My tzittzit are no competitive advantage, nor do I think they obstruct the opposing team in any meaningful way.

    • Tom V. | June 3, 2014 at 10:59 am |

      To me, I think part of the problem is this: Religion is undefinable to an extent.

      If I choose to worship a tree in my backyard as my God, I am free to do so. Let’s say part of worshiping that tree is that I am required to wear a flashing LED wristbands at all times. So I get up to bat with my flashing LED wristbands and someone decides it’s distracting and I can’t wear them. Even though those flashing LED wristbands are part of who I am. Where does it end? Or better yet, where does it start?

      • Morris Levin | June 3, 2014 at 11:14 am |

        Tom V.- Do I value having you as part of the game? If so- then I would start with a conversation to see how I can accommodate you and your LED wristbands. You use an extreme example but I take the question seriously. I think a homogenous totalitarian culture is a lot easier to live in when it comes to these questions. But I believe in the American model and I am willing to fight for it, and have conversations about the different unusual practices we all bring to the public square to make this model work. Morris

        • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm |

          Seriously. I encounter the “Tough Questions” canard when talking about NCAA/amateurism. People seem to mistake having to tackle complex issues as a reason to not find a solution.

      • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm |

        “Better yet, where does it start?” That’s a terrible way to proceed. Yes, extreme religious demands will be hard or possibly impossible to accommodate, or to accommodate fully. It does not therefore follow that because hard cases exist, therefore no accommodations should be made in easier cases.

        To take a real-world example, no matter how devoutly a young woman may wish to wear a full-body burqa and to play softball, it may not be possible for her to do both. Accommodation does have practical limits, and at times we all much choose among our wishes when they are not wholly compatible. So the girl would likely have to choose between eschewing softball to wear the burqa, or significantly adapting her dress to play softball. Yet that choice should only be forced as a result of having sought accommodation and compromise, not as a legalistic first response of “wear tight shorts and a ponytail like everyone else on the team or scram, kid.”

        • Tom V. | June 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm |

          My point is, is that extreme cases will eventually arise and a decision will have to be made at that time.

          I have no problem with the coaches agreeing before hand to let him play with his religious garb showing, and no problem if the rules allow it in a specifically defined way. However, without a set of documented standards, someone will come along with garb that isn’t be allowed and they’re going to question why one religion (or a person being the way they are) can be represented, but another can’t.

          So you come up with a clearly defined set of rules for religious wear and stick with it, or not allow anything at all.

        • Tom V. | June 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm |

          But I’ll tell you what. If that kid is going to a major league ball game, he better damn well be wearing some team colors or something.

        • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm |

          I see what you’re getting at, Tom. And you’re right that it’s important to understand that there will always be hard cases, and to try to have them in mind when formulating rules.

          But still, hard cases make bad law, as the jurists say. One cannot possibly predict every conceivable new situation, so one cannot possibly craft rules that will fairly apply to all cases. And fairness is always necessarily contingent. Just because it may not be possible to take accommodation all the way to the most outrageous extreme, that doesn’t mean that it’s therefore unfair to accommodate those cases that we can. So yeah, the girl with the burqa is probably SOL, whereas the boy with the prayer shawl gets to play ball. Different outcomes, but so long as in both cases a good faith effort to seek accommodation was made, both the process and the outcomes are fair. The “it” in “if you do it for one, then you have to do it for all” in this case is not “let them wear whatever they want to wear.” The “it” that you have to do both for the burqa girl and the prayer-shawl boy is, “make an honest effort to accommodate them.”

        • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm |

          So you come up with a clearly defined set of rules for religious wear and stick with it, or not allow anything at all.

          Or you could try to be reasonable.

          You’re basically arguing against an absolutist strawman. Paul, or anyone else here, isn’t arguing that if it’s religious, then it’s got to be allowed. Rather, he’s applauding the fact that kids and adults got together, and managed to find a solution that everyone was happy with. And when your imagined inevitable extreme hypothetical does actually happen, we hope to be just as reasonable then.

  • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:14 am |

    I’m genuinely surprised by how many UW readers are finding a negative takeaway from this story.

    I thought (and still think) it was a total feelgood story, a win-win.

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:27 am |

      Sports + religion = heightened passions.

      • Teebz | June 3, 2014 at 11:48 am |

        Anything + religion = world on fire.

      • Jim Vilk | June 3, 2014 at 1:54 pm |

        Sports + anything = heightened passions.

        Anything + sports = world on fire.

        Yet none of us are suggesting we become asportist, right?

        Religion isn’t the problem. The problem is when people don’t practice it properly, or when those who don’t practice it are intolerant of those who do. Heightened passions = the opportunity to practice the universal virtue of self-control. Sure, sometimes people will fail, but then there’s the opportunity to practice patience and forgiveness.

        I’m with Paul. This sure feels like a win-win to me.

        • Jim Vilk | June 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

          Wasn’t suggesting Chance or Teebz were intolerant there, by the way…just taking their replies and tweaking them to make a general comment. Never met them, but I’ve heard great things about them.

        • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm |

          No worries. I wasn’t presuming to justify the opinions of my fellow posters here, only explain where some of them come from.

    • Aaron | June 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm |

      Interject religion into any story, and you’ve suddenly got a divisive issue on your hands. To very large swaths of both sides of the argument, there can never be an innocent issue with religion.

      • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm |

        Except, where’s the division here? When the boy was forced to choose between standing by his conscience and playing a game, he chose his conscience. Good for him! When his teammates had to choose between letting one of their own be excluded or standing with him, they stood with their teammate. Good for them! The adults gathered to talk it out and reached a compromise that satisfied everyone’s interests and modeled good citizenship to their kids. Good for them! Heck, even the umpire made a good faith effort to do his job, and in the end he was willing to go along with the judgment of the adult leaders of the league and teams. Good for him!

        In the end, literally everybody won and nobody lost. Nobody’s liberty was trampled, no commonly accepted standards of propriety or decency were violated, freedom and conscience were upheld, teammates stood up for one another, and sportsmanship and fair play triumphed. Is there actually anything here about which people of good will can disagree, something that therefore can be considered “divisive”? I’m not seeing it. I mean, sure, we may disagree on principle about how far we should go to accommodate one another’s consciences, and we might disagree about whether the ump could have made a better call in the first instance, but the actual outcomes of the event seem beyond controversy.

        • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm |

          The division seems to lie entirely in us extrapolating this one specific and limited case out into larger hypotheticals.

        • Jim Vilk | June 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm |

          Amen.

        • hugh.c.mcbride | June 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm |

          Perfectly put, arrScott. And ideal follow-on, Chance.

        • Phil Hecken | June 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm |

          As Ishmael once said…

          Oh, never mind.

          WELL SAID, Scotty. Well said.

    • RJ | June 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm |

      I’ll restate my comment here, I think the way this young man handled himself & then his teammates stood by him should be commended.

      Even the umpire, given a moment to rethink things, made a good decision.

      Having coached youth sports, as an opposing coach particularly in baseball I would see no safety issue, maybe competitive in terms of HBP.

  • Jay Lite | June 3, 2014 at 10:25 am |

    …but yet this site gets mad when a pitcher draws a cross in the dirt on the mound?

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 10:28 am |

      Yossi drew a Star of David on the mound?

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 10:39 am |

      Apples and oranges:

      1) The mound does not “belong” to one person — it’s shared by multiple pitchers and visible to all.

      2) There’s no religious law compelling anyone to draw a cross on the mound.

      3) Drawing a cross on the mound is trying to send a message. Yossi’s tzitzit are not sending any message. They’re PART OF HIM. That’s what many folks here seem not to understand.

      If the kid drew a Star of David on the mound, that would be different.

  • Phil Hecken | June 3, 2014 at 10:45 am |

    And….

    we now have “official” confirmation from the Cardinals (or at least a Cardinals’ blog) on the black stripe on the helmets:

    … it’s a simple way for the coaching staff to have an easier time to see what way the quarterback’s eyes are pointed when watching some of the videoed-from-high-above practice footage every day. The shots that include all 22 players on the field can make everyone look a little small on the screen. This is just another tool to make sure Bruce Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens have all the information they can in their work with the QBs.

  • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 10:48 am |

    The “keep religion out of sports” argument is kind of ironic when you consider that all organized sports as we know it go back to the embrace of Muscular Christianity by British boarding schools in the 19th Century.

  • BobbyO | June 3, 2014 at 10:56 am |

    My 9 year old son plays Cal Ripkin league baseball, and their uniform rules are pretty clear that nothing is allowed to dangle. It’s generally considered a safety issue, and here in rural Connecticut it mostly applies to kids wearing chains with crosses around their necks. The issue of requiring tzitzit fringes to show, or allowing them to be tucked in, is not a settled matter and depends on the interpretation of various rabbis. I would advise this kid to tuck when he’s at bat or a base runner, and hang loose otherwise; it would probably satisfy any umpire (and most rabbis). Or tuck in the fringes but leave the knots showing. Tolerance and compromise go hand-in-hand.

    • Original Jim | June 3, 2014 at 11:00 am |

      That’s another point…is Jewish law specific as to the visible length of the fringes?

      • Morris Levin | June 3, 2014 at 11:03 am |

        The length worn visible varies by the tradition of our different Jewish religious sub-communities (based on geographical-theological tradition).

  • Paul Lee | June 3, 2014 at 11:00 am |

    I get why the NBA is making 1946 pair of shoes, but why on the 68th anniversary? Is there any significance to it? Also, I think the Lakers haven’t won in the playoffs since signing with Time Warner Cable.

  • Morris Levin | June 3, 2014 at 11:01 am |

    The American model at its best makes room for both traditional and untraditional religious practices as well as for those for whom religion is of no interest. A woman wearing a hijab, or LDS wearing garments, or me wearing a yarmulke, or 17-year old wearing a snap-back hat, or member of a motorcycle club wearing specific patches- it’s all neither here nor there in the American public social model. These objects themselves do not pose each other harm in any meaningful way, although they do have meaning for those of us who wear it.

  • SMV | June 3, 2014 at 11:09 am |

    Old Raider program with their logo on the crown of the helmet reminded me of those old Pee-Chee folders we used in school in the old days. As I recall, Pee-Chees had an illustration of a player being tackled with a logo on the front of his helmet and numbers on the side. Did “real” teams ever actually have such helmets?

  • Josh | June 3, 2014 at 11:13 am |

    The potential issue I see here has nothing to do with religion or even an “advantage” of some kind, perceived or otherwise. It has to do with a potential safety issue.

    Different leagues have different requirements. Dixie Youth Baseball has a large presence in this country. There are strict requirements that do not allow jewelry of any kind and if some kind of medallion must be worn for medical or religious purposes, it must be taped to the chest. They do not allow hats worn backwards underneath helmets and it is against the rules for anyone to warm up a pitcher without a face mask, even the pitcher’s own parent.

    All of these have grown out of lawsuits and though most of these things seem pretty harmless to me, we live in a litigious society. As an umpire, in this situation, I would not really see a competitive advantage, but a potential safety issue.

    What if the player slides and these tassels catch on a defensive player’s cleat and the defensive player is injured? The league, the player’s family, the governing organization and even the umpires can potentially be sued. Most would find that distasteful, but it is a simple fact of the world we live in.

    Herein lies the difference between this example and the long shorts in basketball or wearing some sort of religious garb in a non-team sport. Safety is the primary concern here, and that is the one thing that should trump all others at the youth level.

    • Teebz | June 3, 2014 at 11:47 am |

      If you want to play “what if”, Josh, there’s a massive amount of fantasy role-playing games available.

      If you’re looking at this from a safety point of view, (1) teach the kid how to slide properly, and (2) stop being so litigious when kids run into each other.

      The onus is on the league to discuss and provide a safe playing environment, not to play the “what if” card every time something comes up. You’ll be asking for bubble wrap for kids’ uniforms every year if that’s the case.

    • TA | June 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm |

      There are many pieces of required baseball equipment that are much more likely to cause injury than 8 threads hanging off the side of a kid’s waist.

      • ChrisH | June 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm |

        Like belt buckles (which Yossi off-sets…very old-school!).

  • Andrew Seagraves | June 3, 2014 at 11:39 am |

    When I was in high school in eastern North Carolina in the mid 90s, we scrimmaged against a school who wore long sweat pants and sleeves named Bethel Assembly Christian Academy. I believe our school regularly plays them now and I wonder if they still wear long pants.

  • KT | June 3, 2014 at 11:45 am |

    Pedantic quibble: there IS no fourth division in this country. It’s a shorthand many use to try to illustrate where clubs like Detroit City FC would fall on the food chain, but US Soccer recognizes only three divisions of professional soccer. Anything below that is just “amateur soccer.” There is no fourth division.

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm |

      You are technically correct (“the best kind of correct”), but there is a good reason why the NPSL is considered “fourth division.”

      There are two distinct levels within the amateur leagues sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association: one level receieves automatic berths in the US Open Cup and the other does not. Hence “fourth” and “fifth” divisions.

    • ThePonchat | June 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

      Unofficial “official” 4th division.

      US Soccer doesn’t do a lot of things right, so we shouldn’t really reference them for how things should be done or labeled. :)

  • Cort | June 3, 2014 at 11:56 am |

    I’ve worn “Mormon drawers” since I was 19 years old. They’re worn under the clothes, and by design are not supposed to be exposed: that means that the wearer must, at minimum, dress in a short sleeved, crew necked shirt, and shorts that reach just below the knee. Contrary to myth and popular fancy, “the garment” is not a talisman: it is “an outward expression of a inner commitment” to live by a certain set of covenants and principles. Mormons wear this religious clothing not to announce their faith to the world (or to assert some sense of “spiritual superiority”), but to quietly remind themselves of who they are.

    And there are public moments when it is acceptable to not wear the garment. The BYU basketball team, for instance, wears traditional tank tops and shorts, which precludes garment wearing. Danny Ainge played in short shorts, not clamdiggers.

    Having said that, I find it enormously inspiring when I see an athlete competing in a kippah, or hijab, or tzizit ( a few years ago, Paul wrote about Aaron Liberman, a tzizit-wearing basketball player at Northwestern): we don’t share a creed, but we share a sense of commitment, a sense of purpose. When I was the only Mormon boy in my high school (a lonely feeling, indeed), an English teacher showed us the Robbie Benson film version of “My Name Is Asher Lev”. The only thing I remember is young Robbie, all side curls and kippah, playing stickball with a bunch of goyim. It made me feel like Asher and I were compatriots.

    There’s a sporadically entertaining Canadian independent film called “Breakaway”, about a city league all-Sikh hockey team being banned from play because of their headgear, and the creative way they managed to comply with league standards without compromising their personal values. It speaks to a lot of the issues raised here this morning.

    Paul makes a good point: the garment isn’t

  • Nate | June 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm |

    I don’t think there’s a reasonable argument in regards to the tzitzit – whatever safety concerns are presented by their presence are minimal, and I can’t think of a reason why they would advantage the wearer. If the religious garb is in no way a interfering with the sport, or providing an unfair advantage, or posing a safety concern, who cares?

    The question in the abstract, though, is much more interesting. I am a generally non-religious person. I was raised Catholic, now consider myself agnostic, and struggle with diametrically opposed feelings of revulsion towards and warm fuzzy comfort with the Church. I find our nation’s fetishization and elevation of religious beliefs perplexing, and edging towards troubling.

    To be brief: I don’t believe a person’s religious beliefs, no matter how genuinely held, should be held in any higher regard than my genuinely held belief in fairness, or politeness, or animal rights, or whatever (which are concepts I believe in fervently). Why are some acts of self-expression douchebaggy (wearing baggy pants, or flat-brimmed caps, or whatever), while others are unassailable (wearing long pants)? In my mind, both acts of self-expression are to be similarly regarded, and I do regard them similarly!

    • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm |

      “Why are some acts of self-expression douchebaggy (wearing baggy pants, or flat-brimmed caps, or whatever), while others are unassailable (wearing long pants)? In my mind, both acts of self-expression are to be similarly regarded, and I do regard them similarly!”

      That’s where you’re wrong. Wearing baggy pants or flat-brimmed caps is self-expression. And so is wearing a pendant in the shape of a cross for a devoted Christian. There’s no religious requirement to do so. It’s simply a shorthand sartorial choice to express one’s beliefs.

      Tzitzit, on the other hand, are not self-expression. They are a matter of faithful religious observance. If anything, they’re just the opposite of self-expression. They demonstrate the submission of one’s individual identity to obedience to what one believes God has called him to do.

  • RCJ | June 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm |

    I do find it a little funny that today Paul is pretty strong willed about religious tolerance in this story but was just as strong willed over a cross in some dirt for a deceased player at the major league level last year.

    Of course the argument will be about levels – little league versus MLB.

    But the deal is that it was one grounds crew guy that was trying to honor a deceased player and was hardly a big deal at all until someone like Paul decided it was hurting them. Which is nonsensical.

    • Cort | June 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm |

      Personally, I hope this kid makes it to the major leagues. We haven’t heard a PA announcer say anything as satisfying as “Now batting, Yossi Lipskier. Lipskier.” since the 1940′s.

    • David | June 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm |

      Not to speak for him, but I think the difference is today’s lede is about religious usage that the player HAS to perform to maintain under their religious “laws”, vs your example which is something a player “Wants” to do.

      If you don’t draw the cross in the dirt to honor your fallen teammate, there’s no Christian “law” that marks that as a transgression.

    • arrScott | June 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm |

      Surely there is a difference between using a ballfield as a medium for religious expression and upholding religious observance with one’s own body, yes? The boy is not sending a religious or sectarian message; he is practicing the requirements of his faith. The groundskeeper is not practicing the tenets of his faith, he is sending a religious or sectarian message. Now, if we could find a religious tradition in which believers are required to scratch crosses into dirt whenever a television camera is present, then we might have a parallel to the boy wearing the fringed shirt. But as the cases are different, so too may our responses to them.

    • Paul Lukas | June 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm |

      Of course the argument will be about levels – little league versus MLB.

      No, that’s not the difference.

      The difference is that the mound is a public space shared by several different players. It does not “belong” to anyone. Putting a cross there (or a Star of David, or a peace sign, or any other symbol) is a form of messaging. That’s not what the mound is for.

      The kid is not engaged in any messaging. He’s not saying “Look at me,” and he’s not trying to convert anyone. He’s simply being himself, which is an observant orthodox Jewish male.

      When you say you find today’s post “a little funny,” are you implying that I am biased in favor of certain religions and biased against others? If so, please come out and say so, and then we can have that discussion.

      • Original Jim | June 4, 2014 at 9:45 am |

        Actually, he is saying “look at me”. Or rather, his Orthodox Judaism is saying it. By requiring the tzitzit be visible, it sends a message to everyone that Yossi is following his faith.

        Yossi has to wear those due to his faith. He’s 9. He’s not trying to plaster his devotion on a billboard, he’s playing baseball.

        But the doctrine (poor choice of words?) set forth by his faith is saying “everyone must see these fringes so they can all see that he is Orthodox”. And therein lies the difference between Orthodox Judaism and, say, the Mormon Church. Mormons have to wear “magic” undergarments, not seen by anybody except the wearer. Orthodox Jews must wear garments with fringes and tassels visible to everybody.

        It’s “look at me”, but not specifically voluntary.

  • Cort | June 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm |

    I cut myself off. Paul’s point that in many cases the religious garment represents who the person is — it’s not mere adornment. The Sikhs are perhaps the most powerful example of this.

    Lots of players wear non-religious talisman: those magnetic necklaces that are supposed to release Hidden Energy or something; tattoos of deceased loved ones; lucky shirts or shorts; long beards. No one seems to be object to those. Is it the religious aspect that makes it objectionable in the case of the tzizit? What if the Red Sox has announced that their long beards of last year had been grown in a House of David-style frenzy of religious devotion, and not because they thought it brought good luck? Would the gesture have moved from the merely stupid to the morally offensive? I’m not trying to argue; I’m genuinely curious.

    I’m a religious person, but Tim Tebow’s peacocking Christianity made my skin crawl. I don’t object to his devotion — his missionary experiences are inspiring — but the endzone prayers? No thanks. I’m trying to figure out why.

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm |

      It’s a very fine line, to be sure, but my objection to Tebow’s peacocking was that I found it very self-aggrandizing.

      Something akin to the distinctions we were trying to draw yesterday between a conscious routine and a tic – Tebow’s preening didn’t strike me as a spontaneous gesture of faith (the way some might look to the clouds) but a means of drawing attention to himself.

      I don’t think anybody finds that parallel in this specific case, but pro sports are replete with athletes using religious symbols as promotional material. Perhaps that’s why the conversation has drifted.

      • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm |

        I think there’s a distinction to be made between a religious person who plays sports and using sports as a platform for religion. I found Tebow and his supporters annoying because he was transparently the latter, while they played dumb and pretended that he was being unfairly criticized for doing the former.

    • BvK1126 | June 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm |

      Matthew 6 (especially as paraphrased in The Message, a modern American idiomatic English rendering of the Bible) expresses my feelings about Tebow’s style of public expression of his beliefs. In particular, verse 5 is on point:

      5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?”

      I know many people have a problem with Tebow because they feel he is proselytizing when he makes his showy displays of faith. If that is in fact Tebow’s intention, he’s relying on a wildly ineffective method for converting people to his beliefs. As we’ve seen in the comments section today, many people tend to have a viscerally negative reaction to a public display of faith to which they do not subscribe.

      In reality, the only effective audience for Tebow’s demonstrations of faith are those who believe the same things he does. His actions send a signal to the faithful that he’s one of them – and a particular devoted one at that. And, in the end, aren’t those exactly the kind of public displays of religiosity that Jesus counsels against in Matthew 6?

      • Cort | June 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm |

        Thank you for this. It was very helpful!

  • David | June 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm |

    I have no problem with wearing required religious garb and playing sports.

    However, I have a problem with this statement.
    “the fringe undergarment uniform of every male Jew — tzitzit.”

    This may be true for most Orthodox, but this is not at all true for the vast majority of American Jews. Roughly only 20% of US Jews are Orthodox, and most secular Jews would wear neither tzitzit nor a yarmulke on an average day.

    • Chance Michaels | June 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm |

      Agreed – that seems a bit presumptuous on the part of Yossi’s father.

      • BrianC | June 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm |

        I just like saying “tzitzit”.

  • -DW | June 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm |

    “Kruk ’n’ Kuip,”? Nah…Marty & Joe…

    http://reds.enquirer...

    • Brinke | June 3, 2014 at 8:11 pm |

      Oh I know, I grew up with ‘em! Marty’s a friend of mine!

  • Mike V. | June 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm |

    I ump youth baseball and softball. I am Catholic, but know what a tzitzit is. As the ump, I would have never stopped play or brought this up as an issue. The only way I would have addressed it is if the other team’s manager protested. This is little league. The kids are there to learn to make contact, run the bases, field balls, make plays. As an ump I try to keep things in perspective. They aren’t pros playing for the title, with millions of dollars based on the outcome. It’s a kid who is just hoping to get a hit so his teammates cheer for him, or a kid hoping not to mess up a play in the field. No player out there was thinking about how it could be an advantage, including the batter. Leave it to adults to complicate a situation. As the ump, you just don’t consider it as part of the uniform. I you feel it’s an issue, before the game you say to both coaches that if the ball hits the item in question it will not be considered a HBP. You are the ump, you have the authority to make such determinations. If one coach doesn’t like it they can take it ump with league management.

  • Jason | June 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm |

    The leaked Tottenham 3rd kit is one of many possible fakes. I would be surprised if it turned out to be the actual third kit. This one has also been doing the rounds: http://www.spurscomm...

  • Thomas J | June 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    There’s also the potential issue with Sikhs since the hair on top of the head is supposed to remain uncut. A turban or dastar typically covers and contains the hair. That might simply require an unusually large cap/batting helmet. It would be pretty interesting look if a Sikh ballplayer could simply wear a team colored turban with the cap logo affixed to the front.

    • Morris Levin | June 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm |

      If Manny Ramirez’s dreads could work on the ball field…

    • terriblehuman | June 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm |

      I was wondering how Sikh cricket players deal with their hair and headwear regulations, given the popularity of the sport with the Indian diaspora.

      According to this Sikh-English cricketer, it’s just a matter of putting it in a ponytail and wrapping with a bandana.

  • Wolpertinger | June 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm |

    US Army camo, changing again? http://www.economist...

  • David Firestone | June 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm |

    http://www.ebay.com/...

    Found an old restored Red Sox jersey for sale…

    • Scott Davis | June 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm |

      Game-used?! Restored?! By who?! I’ve never seen any font that looks remotely close to that…

      • BrianC | June 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm |

        Bozo the Clown, judging by the font.

  • tommythecpa | June 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm |

    My uniform memories od umpiring and reffing LL sports are of dealing with players who peed their pants. I would put my arm around them and take them over to coach without causing any undue attention.

    Once a RB was tackled by his pants, the pants went down before he did on the side of the field where the fans were.

  • StLMarty | June 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm |

    I think Cheech and Chong think it’s kosher.
    https://www.youtube....

  • Dave | June 4, 2014 at 2:39 am |

    It seems when religion is put in “play”, everyone becomes uber sensitive. I read all the comments and the only conclusion I can come to is that rules are for the non observant or casual religious persons, while those who are more devote than others can do as they please due to the supernatural boogey man sending them straight to hell for non conformity. I think America needs to lighten up. At least the kids could do the right thing and support their teammate.

  • CarolinaGuy | June 4, 2014 at 4:29 am |

    While looking around the Hornets website for more pictures of the court, you can see a slideshow of current players getting some shots in. Notice they all have the new Hornets shorts and shirts but all of their shoes (and bracelets in Big Al’s case) are still Bobcat orange.